Shoe Leather is an investigative podcast that goes behind the scenes of seven forgotten stories that shaped New York City. In Season 1, New York in the 90s, you’ll hear about an unsolved murder, a multi-million-dollar art heist, an Indian mob boss, stolen babies, and a pill that promised to revolutionize abortion in America. Go along with the team as they knock on doors and track down the people who were at the center of the story. Shoe Leather is produced by reporters at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
The Indian Godfather
In the 1990s, in the shadow of the FBI’s large-scale takedown of New York’s most infamous mafia family, an Indian immigrant was quietly building his own criminal organization. Gurmeet Singh Dhinsa came to the United States from the Punjab region of India with little to his name. He quickly built a multi-million dollar gasoline empire using bribery, intimidation and violence.
For over a decade he terrorized the Sikh community in Brooklyn and Queens with his deadly enterprise. So how did police finally catch the Indian Godfather? [...]Read More...
The Baby Napping
In the late afternoon of February 3, 1990, two-day-old Steven Lyons was kidnapped from a Brooklyn hospital— a feat that seems nearly impossible with hospital security measures in 2020. Now, 30 years later, Shoe Leather reporters, Rachel and Elize, follow in the footsteps of the brazen baby-napper with the help of news archives, child abduction experts, and social media.
What caused one of New York City's most destructive riots? A car accident. In this episode, we go back in time to a collision that changed the city forever. [...]Read More...
The Abortion Pill
In the 1990’s, one organization dedicated a decade of work to gain FDA approval of a drug that promised to revolutionize abortion in America. Shoe Leather: the Abortion Pill follows the Population Council’s effort to bring mifepristone – and medical abortion – to the United States. Three decades later, we’ll relive the fight alongside those who were in the center of the ring and explore why some are still waiting for that revolution to arrive. [...]Read More...
A Renaissance of Mysterious Circumstances
In 1990, thieves stole four paintings in a span of five days. Nearly thirty years later, one of the recovered paintings made history at a Sotheby’s auction. This is the story of those thefts—and one artist’s revival. [...]Read More...
On March 25, 1990 eighty-seven people died when the Happy Land Social Club burned. After Julio Gonzalez argued with his girlfriend he bought a gallon of gasoline and set the club on fire. Until the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 the Happy Land fire was the deadliest mass murder in US history. Though the tragedy has mostly slipped through the cracks of collective consciousness, for those who lost loved ones in the fire, it remains a part of their lives. This is a story of community, loss, memory, and resilience. This is Happy Land. [...]Read More...